6 December

These were the year's best art exhibitions, according to artist and curator Stian Hansen.

Kaare Ruud, Quarry / (Et omriss / eller / Et skjelett / Kanskje / Et bygg / Som strekker seg til uendeligheten / Opp fra jorden / Som et tynt strå, tynt som hår og gjennomsiktig / Et minne som eksisterer utenfor tiden / Trekker jeg det opp og trer tvilen på / Som en rekke markjordbær / Og sluker det hele), 2022. Pencils, 11.5 x 18 x 18 cm.

Kaare Ruud, Out of Love, Hulias, Oslo

Under the ambiguous title Out of Love, Kaare Ruud presented a range of sculptures and objects that reference the cultural history of Maridalsveien. a road that connects Sagene, formerly a suburb of Oslo known for its sawmills, to the city centre. On the floor, viewers would find dust, sand, gravel, and things found in the gutter outside. Around the room hung ‘water lilies’ consisting of abandoned and crumpled items of clothing with roots. Hulias was turned into the very image of an empty, dried-up lake where the hidden, the forgotten, and what once was have come to light. On the bottom of the lake were sculptural skeletons based on works by the sculptor Kjell Grette Christensen (the room once served as his studio). The overall impression conveyed by the exhibition was that of a snapshot executed with a uniquely sensitive feel for the materials used.

Nora Joung, Serpent Sighting. Embroidery on cotton, 2022.

Nora Joung, Serpent Sightings, Guttormsgaards arkiv, Blaker

Nora Joung’s exhibition grappled with the German – and rather problematic – art historian Aby Warburg (1866–1929) and his 1923 slideshow on snake rituals and symbolism. A recurring figure in the exhibition was the letter “S.” In Joung’s film, we follow two fictional characters on a quest for the “truth” about serpent rituals in America. Along the way, they come across various text-based signs which are, the very next second, edited to show only the snake-shaped letter. The approach is reminiscent of the at times prejudiced attitude applied by Warburg in his mapping of snake rituals. Displayed alongside the film were beautiful drawings showing variations on the same letter on thick watercolour paper. The presentation was similar to the juxtaposition of images in Warburg’s megalomaniacal work Mnemosyne Atlas (1924–1929).

Gardar Eide Einarsson, Sasumata (In Advance of the Broken Arm), 2022. Metal security tools and wall brackets, dimensions variable. Photo: Vegard Kleven. Courtesy of the artist and Standard (Oslo), Oslo.

Gardar Eide Einarsson, Maybe it’s the calm before the storm. Could be the calm, the calm before the storm, Standard (Oslo)

Gardar Eide Einarsson’s exhibition at Standard (Oslo) this autumn combined a number of contemporary authoritarian symbols and slogans with objects that refer to tactics of resistance and rebellion. There is something comical about authority presented in a white cube, as was evident in the exhibition’s first room: right by the entrance, ready for use, hung five versions of a Japanese tool used to neutralise intruders. On the opposite wall hung two illustrations from a field manual on how to handle troublemakers (the recommended way is to lift them by the crotch). Looming above the room was a diptych high up on the middle wall bearing the inscription, in white Chinese characters: “Strengthen Ethnic Unity; Maintain Social Stability.”

Stian Hansen is an artist. He is a graduate from the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main and curator at the exhibition space Stormen Kunst/Dájdda in Bodø.

For this year’s contributions to Kunstkritikk’s Advent Calendar, see here.